Update 09-14-2012 – The New York City health department approved on Thursday a proposed ban on the sale of soda and other sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces. Ultimately the powers that be in New York believe that raising awareness of the absurdity of these drink sizes is worth banning them even if the ban doesn’t contribute to a reduction in obesity in any meaningful way. I still believe our freedom is more important than any negligible benefits that may or may not result from yet another government intervention (a.k.a. – a law).
Everything else that follows is from June 2012 when I originally wrote this piece.
See the poll results when I asked visitors whether Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed ban on sugar-laden sodas larger than 16 ounces was asked. After posing the question I came back a few days later and gave my viewpoints on this highly controversial subject. You can see it all, take and view the poll, and see my viewpoints in this post.
New York City Mayor Bloomberg plans to enact a far-reaching ban on the sale of sodas and other sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces at restaurants, movie theaters and street carts in the hope of combatting rising obesity.
Below are two videos from the Today show. Each is about three minutes. If you already have an opinion on this subject would you please weigh in with your vote on my informal poll below? Otherwise watch both videos (Part 1 and Part 2) and then record your vote.
I promise to share my views in a few days after others have weighed in. I don’t want to skew the results.
Today Show Part 1
Today Show Part 2
My Viewpoints Added 06/06/2012
Sugar-sweetened beverages are, by far, the largest source of added sugars in American’s nutrition, accounting for about 36 percent of our total added sugar intake. In fact, about 50 percent of the increase in our calorie intake over the past 30 years can be attributed to what we drink. Sugar-sweetened beverages have been shown to promote weight gain and chronic disease.
Sugar-sweetened beverages provide a high glycemic load, often in the form of fructose (high fructose corn syrup), that is typically consumed in large quantities. A high intake of sugar-sweetened beverages has been linked to hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance (even in children), impaired beta-cell function, hypertension, dyslipidemia (high triglycerides, low HDL-cholesterol), oxidative stress, inflammation, and increased uric acid levels. Ultimately these factors increase the risk for chronic disease.
Yes, more than two-thirds of Americans are overweight (bmi > 25) or obese (bmi > 30). Yes, without sweeping changes in what motivates our food-selection, the 34 percent of Americans represented as obese today will be nearly 50 percent by 2030. Yes our technological progress has far outstripped our evolutionary progress. Our bodies were not designed to have access to the too-plentiful calorie-dense food and drink. Yes, food manufacturers, as a whole, put profits in front of health. Yes, the very crops (soy, corn, wheat) responsible for the 150-300 calorie per day increase in our nutrition intake are subsidized by our Federal Government. Yes, our Government should subsidize farmers to grow vegetables and fruits – they don’t.
As for government intervention at the consumer level? My position on this issue is straightforward. Banning (prohibiting) a presently-legal food substance based on portion size is going to do absolutely nothing to treat the obesity crisis in New York City or any other. Legislating my ability to consume a food product through a ban is intrusive, will be ineffective and is quite likely to create unintended, negative consequences. The idea behind this proposal has apparently been given so little educated, expert thought that unintended, negative consequences are inevitable.
Prohibition doesn’t work. This has already been proven. Furthermore it’s my opinion that unless I’m doing something that directly affects another in a harmful way, the government needs to stay the hell out of my business – period. I wear my seatbelt but the government shouldn’t tell me I have to wear it. If I had any sense at all I’d wear a helmet when riding my motorcycle. But I disagree with the 48 states that tell me I am required to wear one by law. Educate me and then leave it up to me. I disagree with big-brother laws that are enacted “for my own good.”
I’m not against all “protect us from ourselves” laws. I agree with anti-smoking-in-public legislation because the research is clear. Second-hand smoke is harmful. Smokers don’t just harm themselves directly they directly harm others within breathing distance. I also think it makes sense that we have anti-driving-while-drunk-or-drugged laws. When you get behind the wheel impaired you run an incredibly high risk of not only being killed but killing someone else. I was a police officer for 10 years. I’ve arrested hundreds of drunk and drugged drivers. I’ve seen the death and destruction that drunk/drugged driving can cause. My Mother was killed by a drugged driver. Drunk/drug-driving laws make sense.
The argument will be made that the Big Gulp consumers who become obese DO cause others harm by costing all Americans more in consumer goods and healthcare costs to treat their increased medical needs resulting from their obesity. I’ll admit – I don’t want to pay for your increased healthcare costs related to obesity. I also don’t want to pay more for an airline ticket because of increased jet fuel costs that result from our heavier butts weighing down the planes during takeoff. But instead of banning a food substance follow the model of tobacco.
Tax the crap out of proven obesogenic food-ingredients (i.e., high fructose corn syrup) at the point of manufacturing and again at the consumer level. Instead of banning the Big Gulp tax the manufacturer of high-fructose corn syrup, allow those costs to be passed on to soda manufacturers and finally throw a $.50 cent or $1.00 tax on serving sizes larger than 16 ounces. Even this won’t stop food-addicted America from consuming sugar-laden drinks but it, like has occurred with tobacco, may reduce consumption and will directly charge those over-consuming for some of their share in the costs of the obesity epidemic. We already do this with the “Gas Guzzler” tax. Congress established Gas Guzzler Tax provisions in the Energy Tax Act of 1978 to discourage the production and purchase of fuel-inefficient vehicles. Want to drive a vehicle that gets 4 mpg? No problem, you just pay more.
The Mayor’s proposal takes aim at fountain drinks larger than 16 ounces. It doesn’t address the two-liter bottles of liquid candy (soda) sold in every quick-mart and grocery-store. It doesn’t address large servings of fruit juice which I see being little better than soda minus the carbonation. Yes, fruit juice does provide some nutritive value that soda does not but the body cares little when we consider the naturally-occurring, yet still obesogenic sugar and calorie load they provide. The proposal only addresses sugar-loaded fountain drinks. It doesn’t address the “diet” drinks of any size even though research is clear that diet drinks do nothing to prevent overweight and promote overeating of other carbohydrate-rich food and drink that more than makes up for the near-zero calories of the diet soda.
The Mayor’s proposal needs shot down before it ever tries to leave the tarmac. In Illinois over 200 new laws took effect January 1st. Nationwide, according to an MSNBC report, over 40,000 new state laws were implemented the same day. The last thing we need is one more big-brother law—especially one so poorly researched and that does not fall into the category of harming others. This proposed law misses the mark but it has done one good thing–it’s raised awareness on America’s obesity crisis from a government intervention perspective. Solving our obesity crisis WILL require government intervention (think tax and how the government subsidizes crop production) and not in the form of prohibition or overreaching big-brother control – again.
David Greenwalt B.Sc., – Founder
Certified Wellness Coach
In general I am against prohibition. Don’t thinks it works. However, in this case freedoms are not limited. What this does do is reawaken folks to what is a reasonable serving size. You can purchase as many 16 oz drinks as you want. 44 oz and up is an obscene serving size, but over time we have come to accept it as OK. Enough already with the super sizing!
I am tired of the government weighing in on everything. Take the school lunch programs for instance…full of sodium, fried foods and very little if anything fresh. We need to take responsibility for our own actions and decisions and stop expecting the government to “fix” everything…or anything for that matter.
When I last visited NYC, I noticed at the Yankee game that the menu displayed the calories listed next to the food item. Did that stop me from ordering a hotdog at Yankee Stadium? Nope. And the average person who drinks the 44 oz, $ .69 big gulp doesn’t care either. Legislating the amount of sugar someone can have in his or her drink says, “Hey, you’re too stupid to make sound decisions about what to put into your body. We brilliant congressmen will save you from yourself.” And then the sugar-junkie is going to go to the corner store and buy a carton of cigarettes.
As much as I agree with not drinking soda, I have a problem with government, any government legislating something that should be personal behavior. People who want to consume large quantities of whatever will always find a way to do so. The companies who sell the beverages will raise the prices of the smaller items causing everyone to pay more. I do know the health implications of sugary drinks on public health and understand that everyone pays more for health insurance and taxes to cover those who have none but I do not believe in removing personal responsibility from the equation.
I like the idea because it reinforces making a good decision. I didn’t wear seatbelts until it became illegal. I like laws that guide me to make better choices and sometimes I really appreciate the support.